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Outdoor workers and skin cancer in South Africa

Working in the Sun Nolwazi MSRM

Working in the Sun Nolwazi MSRM

For More Information see the Fact Sheets under this Article

The American Academy of Dermatology cautions outdoor workers to be aware of an invisible hazard: the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Exposure to these rays for hours is a major risk factor for a number of skin cancers, including melanoma – the most serious form.

South African workers in the sun should take heed in line with this Occupational Hazard” More ever employees are reminded to address this in their Risk Assessments based on the premises of proper due diligence in terms of Section 8 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and Section 11 of the Mine Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996.”

According to the Cancer Association of South Africa, South Africa has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world after Australia. The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented by respecting the sun. The three most common types of skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and malignant melanoma. A significant part of a person‟s lifetime exposure occurs before the age of 18. Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can also lead to inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva of the eye, and may cause and accelerate the development of cataracts.

In line with this the American academy of Dermatology noted that outdoor workers receive more UV radiation exposure than other workers for a number of reasons:

  • Outdoor workers spend long periods of time in the sun.

  • Sweating may contribute to UV related skin damage because it increases a person’s photo sensitivity of the skin, which can result in sunburns. Excessive sweating also can cause sunscreen to come off.

  • UV radiation reflects off sand, concrete and light-colored surfaces, so it can be hard for workers to avoid exposure.

On average, one person dies from melanoma every hour in the United States, according to the academy.

Outdoor workers can help reduce their risk of skin cancers by following these tips:

  • Know that even on cloudy days, you’re still susceptible to UV rays, as up to 80 percent can pass through clouds.

  • Avoid the sun’s rays when they are strongest (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.).

  • Wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses.

  • Regularly and generously apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

  • Check your skin often for suspicious freckles or moles. If you find a mole or spot that has recently changed in appearance or is itching, bleeding or getting larger, see a dermatologist.

If you require assistance with this issue and want to deal with it in a suitable manner you may contact Nolwazi MSRM for a meeting to discuss the relevant avenues. Failure to deal with Hazards can result in increased workers compensation. Let Nolwazi MSRM assist you with Protecting Your People in the best suitable way.

Click on this Link – Skin Cancer Leaflet

Click on this Link – Facts and Understanding Melanoma Cancer

Nolwazi MSRM Blog on Topics relevant to the Health and Safety Industry